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Profile of the Day: Lena Horne

On this day in 1917, singer, actress, and civil rights activist Lena Horne was born.

Image: Lena Horne / Library of Congress

Horne was born on June 30, 1917 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, New York to Edwin Fletcher Horne, Jr. and Edna Louise Scottron. Her father was a professional gambler and left the family when Horne was 3. Her mother was an actress in a black theater troupe and was constantly traveling. As a child, she sometimes joined her mother on the road but spent much of the time living with her paternal grandparents. Her paternal grandmother, Cora Calhoun, was a Black suffragist, civil rights activist, and early member of the NAACP. At the age of 16, Horne joined the chorus of Harlem’s famous Cotton Club where she was first introduced to the jazz community, including performers Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, and Cab Calloway.

During the 1940s and 50s, Horne became one of the most popular and highest paid African American performers of the time. In 1943, she starred as the lead in the films Cabin in the Sky and Stormy Weather, which featured her rendition of the title song that would become her signature song. After World War II, Horne found huge success as a nightclub performer and recording artist. Her 1957 album, Lena Horne at the Waldorf-Astoria, became the best-selling album by a female singer for her label, RCA.

An outspoken activist of the Civil Rights Movement, Horne performed at many rallies around the country on behalf of the NAACP and the National Council for Negro Women. She also participated in the March on Washington in 1963.

Horne died on May 9, 2010 at the age of 92.

Explore Lena Horne’s family tree on Geni and share how you’re connected to the star.

View Lena Horne’s Geni Profile

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The post Profile of the Day: Lena Horne first appeared on The Geni Blog.


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